Tuesday, 28 July 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Belly-Dancing And The Book of Exodus

Admittedly, once the sun's gone down and you're all danced out, there isn't much to do in the desert ...

I am 51 years old and aboard a Camel named Azell, at least by day, with eight members of Hazel Keyes Arabian Dance Class. We are belly dancers - having the time of our lives in the Sinai Desert. We have a support team that includes Giles the Oud player, Mohammed the drummer, and as many male accomplices as could be persuaded to attend on us. Six, if my memory serves me right. Spouses and lovers of the dancers - men who might be seen at every camp adorning the high places as if laying claim to all they surveyed. This may well be what men need to do, I say, tentatively. We women were more interested in finding discreet places to pee.

There are stories aplenty to be told: the horrendous journey from Cairo to Sharm-el-Sheik in a minibus, being offered sex at the ghastly hotel there and quitting the scene at speed with my integrity intact, learning to ride and stay astride a camel ... Days of stark beauty nights under blazing stars ...

And the dancing! Better demonstrated than described, but not here, not now, I don't have my coin belt and veil on me ... At sunrise, before breakfast, the dancers, and accompaniment, would head off to a suitably stunning view above a patch of sand, lay down our mats, and practice whatever we were to perform after supper that evening back at the camp,which, by the way, resembled Abraham's and was erected daily by members of Faranjela's clan.

Fourth day in, Chris, our guide explained, as we scrambled down into Powder Canyon, and the sand underfoot WAS just like talcum powder - that this was part of the route the Israelites had taken out of Egypt into the Promised Land.

To my utter amazement, none of the members of our party had any idea of what he was talking about, and Chris, unprepared for the level of interest, couldn't fill them in.

'Oh! I explained, You're talking about the Exodus!' And, encouraged to do so, I told the tale.' I can't believe you don't know this! I said, genuinely puzzled. "Why would we, we're from Stroud!" Was. Colena's response. (Colena who set fire to herself trying to smoke something she's picked in a very well-watered plantation we found, and hastily left, in the middle of nowhere. We let her put herself out)

For the rest of the holiday I was called upon every evening to tell a story. Fortunately, we arrived back at base camp during the Shipwreck of St Paul and I wasn't called upon to interpret the Book Of Revelation!

And ... A poem:

It is my fifty-first birthday. As I recall the magic of this day, I am reminded of my strength and my resilience and am full of laughter. I hope this comes through in the writing.



A Work of Heart


To write this poem, 

I planted my feet,

Strong, bare feet,

Firmly, in the sand.


I raised my arms, then, 

Dropped them, as I was taught,

To my shoulders.


Aligning my palms to the strengthening sun,

I waited,

Alert, for the words


To drift, or bounce or slide


Down, 

      

       Down 


          With the music.


I lifted my head and

Listened, listening,

For the deluge.


Quietly at first...


Trilling over my fingertips

Snaking down my arms

Shivering across my shoulders

Thrumming through my breast

Shimmying with my hips


Turning


         Turning


                     Turning


Clapping with my hands

Stamping with my feet -


The poem came!


And


                    I DANCED.

1 comment:

  1. Aaah, I would have recited the story with you. Exodus is a good one.

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